Eventually, when 10KM runs became tolerable, I decided I wanted to enter the world of distance running.
I started researching training programs and diets. My browsing history was an endless list of articles like “How To Run Your Best Marathon”, “Eat to Complete” and “The Best Shoes for Over-Pronators”. To be frank, it overwhelmed me.
One weekend, while visiting my in-laws, my husband mentioned that his parents’ neighbor, now a senior, used to run marathons and triathlons. In fact, now in his 80s, he still cycled for 2 hours every day on his stationary bike.
My husband suggested I talk to him about training.
My mother-in-law kindly invited him and his wife for dinner so I could. This made me happy, not only because I could pick a gazelle’s brain, but because company meant my mother-in-law would make pancit and spring rolls.
He was a quiet man, unassuming and gentle, who looked more like 55 than 82. Towards the end of dinner, we finally got to chat about running.
“So, how many races have you ran?” I asked expectantly.
“Oh, dozens, but I didn’t really keep track. You see, I didn’t decide to become a runner until the kids were grown up. I was probably in my late 40s. One day, I just put on my shoes and thought I’d see how far I could go. And each day, I went a little further, until I was able to run a marathon. I enjoyed it, so I just kept running them.”
“You didn’t compete or anything?”
“Oh, no. I was never interested in that. Tell me, what distance are you wanting to try?”
“I’d like to run a half marathon this year,” I replied.
“Oh yes, the Half is probably the most pleasant of all the distance races. It’s long enough to be a challenge for elite runners, but not so long that first timers struggle to finish.”
My biggest fear was signing up for something I couldn’t accomplish, so I asked him if he’d ever failed to finish a race.
“Of course! I remember once running the Ottawa Marathon in a terrible cold rain. My heart just wasn’t in it. At the 30KM mark, I called it quits. It’s important to listen to your body. Sure, it can play tricks on you, but it will also scream, loud and clear, when it’s done fighting. That day, mine was done. And that was okay, because I knew there’d be another race, or another day when I’d finish the distance on my own.”
“So, I’ve been researching diet and training regimens for the half marathon. But I really don’t know if I can stick to a weeks-long program. What kind of training program do you recommend?” I asked.
He grinned. “There’s so much information out there, it’s overwhelming, isn’t it?”
I nodded, dewy-eyed.
“But running isn’t hard, really. It’s just one foot in front of another until you need to stop. Just try to run the distance on your own and see how you do. You’ll know when you’re ready.”
It was so simple.
Just get out there and try.
Why hadn’t the Internet told me THAT?!
By then, dinner was over and I got up to help clean. During dessert, he leaned over to me.
“You know,” he whispered, “us runners… we’re a rare breed.”
“No,” I thought, as I looked at his kind face.
“You’re the rare breed.”
Psst! You can receive automatic updates whenever there’s a new post on See Fleck Run! To follow me, in the bottom right corner of my page, click Follow.